One of the more inspiring proposals we received for our 2015 Community Grants Program was from CARE Elementary School, a free, private nonprofit Christian academy recently launched in Overtown. With an intense focus on literacy education, our grant helped to purchase their literacy curriculum software. When the school opened last August, only five percent of their third graders were working at grade level, according to their Lexia Core5 results. After just one year, more than 90 percent of that class is now working at grade level. This impressive impact was just one reason why CARE received renewed support in 2016. CARE will use their 2016 grant to enhance the teachers’ aide program so that students can receive extra academic support. The right resources at the right time in a child’s life can be just the opportunity a student needs to excel.

The Miami Foundation’s Community Grants Program is made possible by more than 100 generous philanthropists who entrusted their resources with us to address Greater Miami’s most pressing issues forever. We annually invest over $1 million in valuable programs like CARE Elementary that expand access to the opportunities local residents need. We connect our donors’ philanthropic legacies with the 2014 Our Miami Report to ensure their resources impact the issues currently affecting our community’s quality of life.

On Tuesday, we celebrated the 70 local nonprofits receiving Community Grants during a reception in their honor. It’s our annual opportunity to highlight the great work that these nonprofit organizations do for thousands of residents. Day-in and day-out, they relentlessly work on the ground to make Greater Miami a better place to live.

The cost of living in Miami-Dade County is among the highest in the country. Last month, a report by The Metropolitan Center at Florida International University highlighted the significant affordability challenges in our community and opportunities to address them. Organizations like New Hope C.O.R.P.S., Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS) and Legal Services of Greater Miami are dedicated to addressing local economic inequality and housing instability. With their grant, New Hope will purchase a much-needed van to transport homeless individuals to substance abuse and mental health services. JCS is expanding their comprehensive employment program and Legal Services of Greater Miami is helping prevent veteran homelessness.

Other Community Grants recipients like Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University Foundation help local residents gain access to better health care, providing a bridge for Miami-Dade’s growing health care gaps. In turn, this improves well-being across the entire community. NSU College of Dental Medicine’sSmiles Across Miami program visits Miami-Dade Public County Schools in the North Miami Beach area to provide uninsured students dental care. FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences is launching the CO-REACH health initiative at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Liberty City to offer preventive care services to students and residents of the area.

At the Community Grants reception, CARE Elementary School Principal Christopher Simmond spoke with great passion about his belief in his students. “When students see you support them, they grab onto it and move forward,” he shared. This sentiment rings true for all of our grantees; their work changes lives and drives social change in our community. They’re committed to improving life in Miami, and in turn, we are committed to working together with them to make a greater impact than any one of us could make alone.

Click here to see a list of all 2016 Community Grants recipients.

Victoria Fear is programs officer for The Miami Foundation


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